In the County Court at Bristol
Bristol Magistrates’ Courts
29 July 2021
His Honour Judge Ralton
- This is an ex tempore judgment of the court on an application made by the Housing Association, formerly known as Solon South West Housing Association Limited but now known as Brighter Places, for the committal to prison of a tenant, Mr Deeto Myles, for being in breach of an injunction order. By way of a brief background, Mr Deeto Myles is the tenant of Brighter Places. He occupies 63A St Werburghs Park. From what I know in this case, this is a property with a communal entrance way and a number of flats within the one building.
- It would appear that there was concern raised by residents that Mr Myles was behaving in a way that was rather antisocial, in particular in the form of noisy and very frequent visitors, and that resulted in the Housing Association making an application for an injunction order against Mr Myles under the provisions of the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014. That application first came before Rowe DJ on 21 June 2019 and more recently was extended by Chappell DJ on 26 June 2020.
- The orders made by Chappell DJ are as follows:
“Forbidding Mr Myles, whether by himself or by instructing or encouraging any other person from making or causing a nuisance or annoyance to another resident of St Werburghs Parks of St Werburghs, Bristol; committing or allowing a member of is household or inviting visitors from committing any form of harassment or causing distress to any other resident at St Werburghs Park; allowing visitors to attend 63 St Werburghs Park, other than any visiting professionals such as health workers, emergency services, housing officers, and tradespeople; leaving rubbish outside of the property or causing a nuisance to other residents of the local area by leaving disposed of items outside of the property or anywhere in the locality of the front.”
That order was to last until 21 June of this year. Today is 29 July 2021 and the order has, in fact, expired.
- The Housing Association was concerned that Mr Myles was in breach of the injunction order and on 22 March of this year it made an application in the new form N600 for the committal to prison of Mr Myles. Within the N600, nine breaches are set out. I will come back to them in a moment. There have been difficulties, apparently, in serving Mr Myles, due to Mr Myles being in prison for unrelated matters, which may also explain why the last incident relied on by the Housing Association goes back to 2 February of this year. The application is supported by the affidavit of Miss Shelley Williams who is their anti-social behaviour officer. There are a number of exhibits to that affidavit. Some of the exhibits are in the form of audio-visual footage captured generally by the property’s CCTV system, but on one occasion captured by a resident on, presumably, their mobile phone and passed to the Housing Association.
- The application, together with, I believe, the notice of the hearing, the most recent one being 3 June, was eventually served on Mr Myles on 16 June of this year, which is well over a month ago, and the N600 sets out the prescribed warnings and information that must be given to a person who is the subject of committal proceedings.
- Mr Warren appears today for the Housing Association. Mr Myles has not attended court today, nor has he responded in any way. So far as the court is concerned there is nothing that I am aware of on the court file that comes from him.
- Mr Warren asked me to proceed today, and I have been minded to proceed, to determine whether any of the breaches are made out on the criminal standard of proof. Miss Williams has been affirmed. She has confirmed her affidavit. The audio-visual footage has been played back. As I understand Miss Williams’ evidence, Mr Myles is in the last chance saloon when it comes to facing possession proceedings.
- I return to the schedule of breaches. Not all are pursued. The Housing Association relies only on the evidence of its antisocial behaviour officer. None of the residents have come forward. The four breaches Mr Warren says are pursued are numbered three, six, eight and nine.
- Three reads as follows. “On 17 September 2020, at approximately 12 am, a male attended the property and was shouting very aggressively. Another male, not the defendant, came out of the property and had a confrontation with the male who had been shouting. This incident distributed the neighbours and caused a nuisance.”
- The sixth one reads as follows. “On 7 December 2020, the defendant contacted the claimant and stated a friend had smashed one of his windows. This accordingly shows that he had a visitor at this time.”
- “On 1 February 2021, the claimant received reports that there had been loud music, banging, and shouting visitors at the defendant’s property. This had caused neighbours a nuisance and annoyance. The police attended and found the place playing loud music late at night.”
- “CCTV footage over 1 and 2 February 2021 shows a constant stream of visitors to the defendant’s property.”
- To find a breach made out I must be satisfied that I am sure that the breach occurred. It is the criminal standard of proof, not the civil standard of proof. I have heard from Miss Williams, and I have no reason not to accept anything that she has said in her affidavit or indeed orally to the court. The question, of course, is whether or not the breaches are made out on the evidence.
- The third incident relied on, 17 September 2020, has the audio-visual footage, save that the video footage is of no assistance because it is dark. One is trying to reverse engineer from the voices what happened. Certainly, a nuisance was caused. I can hear the loud voices and the content of the conversation. But was this an incident that the defendant was responsible for within the meaning of the injunction order? I am afraid, so far as that breach is concerned, the evidence is not sufficient to satisfy me on the criminal standard of proof.
- So far as the 7 December allegation is concerned, the broken window allegation, for want of a better description, I have seen a photograph of the broken window. Nobody has been able to say whether or not the window was broken from the outside in or the inside out, but it is a very broken window and it would seem, from the information given by the defendant himself to the claimant, that this was attributable to a friend. Now, a friend can only be there, it would seem, by visiting the defendant, and whilst the evidence is far from weighty, I do consider that that breach is made out.
- So far as breaches eight and nine are concerned, the incidents of 1 and 2 February, there are a number of pieces of CCTV footage. The last piece of CCTV footage is the most illuminating in terms of video because it shows a steady stream of visitors. Other footage shows the nuisance nature, especially of the defendant’s music, and I am particularly taken by the footage taken by another resident who wishes to remain anonymous, which clearly records her voice, the defendant’s voice, and the noise, and can be summarised as the resident politely but desperately asking the defendant to stop playing his music so loud. Again, the evidence is not perfect, but I am satisfied that breaches eight and nine are made out.
- The question then turns to what penalty, if any, should the court impose and should the court proceed to consider penalty today or on another occasion. I have come to the decision that Mr Myles should have one final opportunity to attend court. There is a risk of the court giving Mr Myles a sentence of imprisonment which may very well be suspended. Nonetheless, that involves the potential deprivation of his liberty and I think that Mr Myles must have one final opportunity to come to court to speak up, either by himself or by arranging for a representative to speak for him in litigation. I would also be interested in hearing from Mr Myles and being more informed from his side about his behaviour since he was released from prison and what his proposals are about complying with the injunction order in the future.
- The court, of course, wants to achieve peace and quiet for all of the residents at this property and if that can be achieved without Mr Myles going to prison, so much the better. So I will relist the matter before the first available district judge, recorder or circuit judge and my clerk here may be able to get a date. At Bristol Magistrates’ Courts we will allow a time estimate of one hour for the purpose of sentence. Mr Warren, you will need to draw up the order from today. For the avoidance of any doubt, there must be a transcript of this judgment prepared on an expedited basis at public expense, and, of course, the notice of the sentencing hearing must be served personally by the Housing Association upon Mr Myles. So far as costs are concerned, I suspect the correct order is to make it simply costs reserved at this stage.